Topic: "Don't Feed the Animals"
There is a battle for life and death which has received even less coverage in the media than either the "Downing Street Memo" or the e-mails of Karl Rove. The conflict is the result of the throngs of camera-toting tourists who have crowded into the most scenic parts of South Africa and who have ignored all the warning signs that threaten fines for feeding the baboons. The animals have gotten used to the treats, and become increasingly aggressive in their search for more. A half loaf of discarded bread, for example, will provide a baboon with more nutrition than what could be obtained in four hours of foraging.
Jenni Trethowan of "Baboon Matters" manages nine monitors who try and keep baboons away from population centers, thereby reducing the potential for conflict with humans. The humans, says Ms. Trethowan, are sick of having their kitchens ransacked by primates who have an uncanny ability to break into houses. Twenty-one baboons were slain by humans in 1999, and eight were lost in 2004. It is believed that there are somewhere around 270 surviving baboons in 30 different troupes in the general area.
Diana Head, a resident of "Pringle Bay," a seaside village, removed all the gutters from her home and electrified a fence around her house after she found baboons trying to force open her upstairs windows. The entire village was under virtual siege last year after baboons repeatedly raided the local store and a children's nursery. "Things," she said, have gotten a bit better "because the dominant male baboon who led the raids and specialized in removing sliding glass doors, apparently has been replaced by a more placid baboon."
With deference to those who decry evolution as the process which produced modern man Frodo, who holds a unique position himself in that chain, cannot help but comment on this conflict between species of mammalian.
The well-intentioned imperialists gave more wealth to the inhabitants of the Middle East than could ever have been unilaterally amassed. This disturbance to the normal order of things is at the heart of conflict between these distant cousins. When the well-intentioned tried to lessen the reward or to change the rules, violence ensued. Frodo notes that the baboons had enough good sense to change leaders, and that sadly, dear reader, is where the similarity ends.
It seems to Frodo that George W. Bush would probably be pretty good at removing a sliding glass door. Were he in charge of that troupe, he would be recognized as an effective leader. That is, until all the baboons were gone.